Djibril Cissé was the star man for Panathinaikos as he helped his side to a crucial three points in a fiery Athens derby against old foes Olympiakos on Saturday. The win for Pana helps ensure that the gap between the two teams is reduced to a solitary point with Olympiakos just holding their own at the top.
In what resembled a former Premier League players’ gathering there were ten players in total who either started the game or sat on the substitutes bench who have former connections with clubs from England and one such player, the former Liverpool and Sunderland star Djibril Cissé, was to play a prominent role. After seeing Panathinaikos fall behind in the first half to a 37th minute Kevin Mirallas strike it was Cissé who took centre stage after the break. In the 57th minute it was the Frenchman who restored parity after firing home from close range to send the home fans into raptures. Just six minutes later Cissé won a penalty kick which he duly dispatched to score his seventh goal of the campaign and give his side the 2-1 lead which they never relinquished.
Panathinaikos, who won their 20th league title last season, are hoping that this victory can signal the beginning of a winning run which will take them back to the top of the table. Olympiakos, who finished empty-handed last season for the first time in six years, are hoping not to repeat the experience but yesterday’s defeat will have them fearful of the very real challenge that the current champions will pose throughout the season. After eight games of the Super League Greece campaign Olympiakos have 18 points, one more than Panathinaikos and five more than joint third AEK Athens and Asteras Tripolis.
WATCH PANATHINAIKOS v OLYMPIAKOS HIGHLIGHTS HERE:
Defending African champions TP Mazembe have already as good as won the CAF Champions League for a second successive year, and fourth title overall, following their 5-0 demolition of Tunisian champions Espérance.
In an amazing first leg to this year’s CAF Champions League final the Congolese side took to the field at their home Stade de la Kenya in the town of Lubumbashi and they certainly didn’t disappoint. Although it has to be said that the first goal from Ndandu Kasongo had a touch of controversy about it as it was debateable whether the ball had crossed the line from his 18th minute header but the referee gave the goal and TP Mazembe didn’t look back. The Tunisians’ cause wasn’t helped when Mohamed Ben Masour was sent off just six minutes later for an off-the-ball incident. Following all of the incidents that had befallen them Espérance very nearly made it in at the break with a mere one goal deficit but a penalty given in first half stoppage time to the home side was tucked away by Dioko Kaluyituka and the game was fast running away from the Tunis side. The second half saw an inevitable avalanche of chances from TP Mazembe whose superior numbers on the field was turned into a vastly superior number of goals as Given Singuluma scored twice just before the hour mark and Kasongo scored his second of the game with sixteen minutes to go.
As it happens the only other time that a team took a five goal advantage into the second leg of the final happened in 1968 after Togo’s Étoile Filante de Lomé lost to a Congolese team called TP Englebert, now known to all as TP Mazembe, in the second win of a back-to-back success. It looks like history is going to repeat itself following the second leg of the 2010 CAF Champions League final to be played in Tunis on November 13th.
WATCH TP MAZEMBE v ESPERANCE HIGHLIGHTS HERE:
It’s been a long wait for Latvia’s most decorated club but Skonto Riga finally clinched a record extending 15th LMT Virslīga title today following a 2-2 draw at home to nearest challengers FK Ventspils. The point gained meant that Skonto maintain a six point cushion at the top of the table with just one match remaining and for coach Alexsandrs Starkovs signals the beginning of a new era for his beloved club after six years without a major trophy.
With 65 points from 25 games and a six point margin before today’s match kicked off Skonto were already virtually assured of the title. The only way the title would go down to the final week would be if FK Ventspils were to beat their hosts in today’s game. With head-to-head records being used in Latvia for the first time this season, and with both clubs having had one win apiece in their previous two league meetings, it was imperative for FK Ventspils that they win today, reduce the gap at the top to three points and hope that Skonto would lose their final home game next week. But for Skonto only a point was necessary but they earned it the hard way having to come from behind twice.
FK Ventspils gained the initiative as early as the 13th minute when Artūrs Zjuzins gave the vistors the lead and restored hope to the Yellow and Blues that a fourth championship crown might be heading its way back to Latvia’s Baltic coast. However parity was restored with seven first half minutes remaining thanks to Kaspar Dubra. With the game tied at 1-1 at the break it was finely poised for a second half showdown and only the most determined team would make or break this encounter. That team appeared to be FK Ventspils when, in the 53rd minute, Jurijs Žigajevs re-established the lead for FKV and all they had to do was make sure that they kept hold of the advantage. Alas that advantage was lost in the final quarter of the match. In the 74th minute Igors Tarasovs scored Skonto’s second leveller of the day and so the initiative returned to Starkovs’ men who just needed to resist any further attacks from their opponents until the final whistle.
Cue the final whistle and the celebrations could begin for the Latvian capital side. For coach Alexsandrs Starkovs it was a fantastic season back at the helm for the man who guided Skonto to eleven consecutive titles between 1993-2004. In his absence only one further title was added, the 2004 championship under Jurijs Andrejevs, before Englishman Paul Ashworth took over the reins from 2005-2009 in what sadly proved to be a largely unsuccessful period. Having seen arch-rivals Liepājas Metalurgs and FK Ventspils lift the last five championship titles between them it is finally time for Skonto FC to re-capture their glory days and call themselves Latvia’s Number 1 once more.
NOTE: Stoppage Time – International Football Blog will be in Riga next week to see Skonto’s final match of the season against local rivals FK Jaunība, a game you can read about in our Away Days section.
WATCH SKONTO RIGA v FK VENTSPILS HIGHLIGHTS HERE:
The Confederation Cup, Africa’s second club competition, is at the semi-final stage and for Moroccan side FUS Rabat the dream of a first continental title is still strong following their 2-1 away victory in Libya against Ittihad. Two-time champions CS Sfaxien of Tunisia have a narrow one goal advantage to take into their second leg tie against Sudan’s Al-Hilal.
FUS Rabat were away in the Libyan capital Tripoli for their first leg tie against Ittihad and in front of a 50,000 crowd stunned the home support with a 2-1 victory to set themselves up for the home leg in fine style. The opening goal of the game came just thirteen minutes in and was somewhat fortunate to creep into the net after Hacham El Fatihi’s shot bobbled along the ground past Ittihad keeper Samir Aboud. The game then featured two fantastic free-kick goals in the second half in terms of goalscoring action with Mohammed Benchrifa doubling FUS Rabat’s lead in spectacular fashion just two minutes after the break, this despite having ten men on the pitch following Alhassane Issoufou’s red card in the 40th minute. Younes al Shabani reduced the arrears by half with just sixty seconds remaining following a well worked free-kick but the Libyan champions have to be content with a one goal deficit going into the second leg which is played in the Moroccan capital on November 12th.
CS Sfaxien have a tremendous record in this competition having won it back-to-back in 2007 & 2008 and are hoping to win it for a third time since the tournament took its current format six years ago. They were at home to Al-Hilal who are hoping to become only the second Sudanese team to reach the final of this tournament following their arch-rivals Al-Merreikh’s appearance in 2007. The only goal of the game was scored after 36 minutes thanks to midfielder Kamel Zaiem, who is in good form having scored three goals in his team’s last three matches, and it proved to be the difference ahead of the second leg which will be played in Al-Hilal’s home city of Omdurman on November 14th.
WATCH ITTIHAD v FUS RABAT GOALS HERE:
So with the Major League Soccer (MLS) regular season completed the Play-Offs begin in earnest this weekend. Fresh from winning the Supporters’ Shield, the trophy given to the team with the best overall record during the regular season, will Los Angeles Galaxy go one better in this year’s Play-Offs and come away with the coveted trophy? Or will one of the other seven Play-Off qualifiers deprive them of the title that gets more competitive every year? Stoppage Time – International Football Blog previews this year’s Play-Off series.
WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAY-OFFS
The tie of the round inevitably involves regular season champions LA Galaxy playing against Seattle Sounders. Both of these teams have already qualified for next year’s CONCACAF Champions League with the former securing their place thanks to their Supporters’ Shield triumph whilst the latter will feature in North & Central America’s elite club competition thanks to their recent U.S. Open Cup victory in which they defeated Columbus Crew 2-1 in the final. Both teams, therefore, see this year’s Play-Off series as a chance to secure a ‘Double’ and the Sounders have the most to prove if they are to jump over the first hurdle. They lost both times to the Galaxy during the regular season (4-0 at home; 3-1 away) but they have shown some good form leading into the post-season having won five out of their last six games. The Galaxy will have all of the pressure heaped upon them as their all-star line-up including the likes of Landon Donovan and David Beckham will know that, despite topping the regular season standings by three points from Real Salt Lake, they could be just two games away from elimination. The other Western Conference match involves last season’s MLS Cup champions Real Salt Lake who are undefeated in their last fourteen Major League matches and who, like last season, have timed their run into the finals perfectly. They face up to a FC Dallas team who know that it was only a fortnight ago that they lost in a regular season match to Real and will want to avoid the same thing happening again. It should prove to be a fascinating match-up.
LA Galaxy v Seattle Sounders (1st leg 31.10; 2nd leg 07.11)
Real Salt Lake v FC Dallas (1st leg 30.10; 2nd leg 06.11)
EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAY-OFFS
With six of the top eight regular season teams coming from the Western Conference two of those clubs have had to ‘switch sides’ to the Eastern Conference due to the format. Both of the two eastern qualifiers will play one of their western counterparts at this stage with the most prominent tie involving Eastern Conference champions New York Red Bulls against the San Jose Earthquakes. With stars of the immense quality of Thierry Henry and Rafael Márquez in their ranks the Red Bulls are hoping that the huge investment placed into the team by the famous drinks manufacturer will finally begin to pay off and will herald a first major trophy for the underachieving club. The Earthquakes, twice winners of the MLS Cup in 2001 & 2003, finished eighth in the regular season but they will be satisfied if their head-to-head against New York in this year’s regular season is replicated as San Jose got the better of the games losing 2-0 in New York but winning 4-0 at home. The final Play-Off encounter pits Columbus Crew, MLS Cup winners in 2008 and second in this season’s Eastern Conference, against the final Western Conference outfit Colorado Rapids who have qualified for the post-season for the first time in four years. Both teams have been in less impressive form coming into the finals with Colorado winning three of their final eight regular season matches whilst Columbus have fared even worse winning just one but they have had to juggle the CONCACAF Champions League into their schedule. In the regular season head-to-head Columbus got the slight edge over the Rapids with a 3-1 home win in August coming after a 1-0 defeat in Colorado two months earlier.
New York Red Bulls v San Jose Earthquakes (1st leg 31.10; 2nd leg 05.11)
Columbus Crew v Colorado Rapids (1st leg 29.10; 2nd leg 06.11)
Many of European football’s domestic knockout competitions were in action over the last few days and there has been plenty of shocks, goals and action along the way. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog reviews the most significant action from across Europe.
BELGIUM: Defending title holders KAA Gent comfortably got through their Round of 32 tie against KVK Tienen. Among the goals was Tim Smolders scoring twice as Gent strolled to a 4-1 victory. RSC Anderlecht, in contrast, were made to work hard against third division side URS de Centre progressing 4-1 in a penalty shoot-out following a 2-2 draw after extra-time. Club Brugge, Standard Liege and current league leaders Racing Genk are some of the big clubs who progress following a Round of 32 largely devoid of shocks.
CROATIA: The biggest shock in Croatia came in Split where the defending cup holders Hajduk were defeated at home by NK Istra 1961 at the Round of 16 stage. With the game goalless after 90 minutes Emir Hadžić scored the only goal of the game and shocked the home side who now go out of the tournament. It was plain sailing for Hajduk’s arch-rivals Dinamo Zagreb who scored both of their goals in a 2-0 away win at NK Karlovac before the half-hour mark.
DENMARK: League leaders FC København were roundly defeated at home by AC Horsens in the biggest shock in the Round of 16. Four different players were on the score sheet for the visitors who silenced the home crowd, coming away with a 4-2 win at the Parken. On Thursday 2009-10 cup winners FC Nordsjælland had to make the tough trip to Odense and emerged as 3-2 winners whilst in the other all-Superliga clash Esbjerg fB defeated Silkeborg IF by two goals to nil with both strikes coming in the first half.
ENGLAND: The big boys had it their way again in the English League Cup Round of 16. Title holders Manchester United, looking for a third consecutive win in this competition, finally scrapped to a 3-2 win at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers while Arsenal FC made easier work of Newcastle United who succumbed to a 4-0 home defeat. Aston Villa needed thirty extra minutes to see off second tier Burnley FC with a 2-1 win and Birmingham City needed the lottery of a penalty shoot-out to defeat Everton’s conquerors Brentford F.C.
FRANCE: The Coupe de la Ligue witnessed two big games which resulted in knockouts for Olympique Lyonnais and Girondins de Bordeaux at the hands of Paris Saint Germain and Saint-Étienne respectively. AS Monaco had to fight all the way at home to Lorient eventually going through by virtue of penalties whilst they will meet defending champions Olympique Marseille team in the next round after l’OM toughed out a 1-0 victory away at EA Guingamp.
GERMANY: As ever in Germany the cup saw plenty of amazing goals and shocks. DFB-Pokal holders FC Bayern München scraped their way past Werder Bremen with the most successful side in German Cup history winning 2-1 over the second most successful thanks mainly to the efforts of Bastien Schweinsteiger. Eintracht Frankfurt thrashed Hamburger SV by 5-2 to qualify for the Round of 16 whilst the big shocks happened in Aachen and Offenbach after those cities’ respective teams Alemania and Kickers knocked out the top two from the top flight. 1.FSV Mainz 05 lost 2-1 away in Aachen and Borussia Dortmund, who had high hopes for this competition, went down to a penalty shoot-out loss in Offenbach following a goalless 120 minutes of football.
ITALY: Not too many of the big boys enter the Coppa Italia at the Round of 32 stage but those who did play this week had plenty to smile about. Current Serie A leaders SS Lazio had an easy 3-0 home win against Portogruaro Summaga while Udinese thrashed Padova Calcio by four goals to nil. It was a bit tougher for the likes of AC Fiorentina and Genoa FC as they needed extra-time to see off Empoli FC and US Grosseto respectively. The likes of AC Milan, Juventus FC and defending title holders Internazionale FC enter in the next round.
POLAND: Jagiellonia Białystok, 2009-10 cup winners, sealed their passage through the Puchar Polski Round of 16 stage after a narrow 1-0 away win at Korona Kielce with Maciej Makuszewski scoring the only goal of the game. League champions KKS Lech Poznań defeated KS Cracovia 4-1 whilst Cracovia’s eternal enemies Wisła Kraków scraped a 1-0 home win in the 87th minute against Widzew Łódź thanks to Maciej Żurawski. Capital side Legia Warsaw sealed a 2-1 win away at Śląsk Wrocław whose season goes from bad to worse. Lechia Gdańsk and Ruch Chorzów needed penalty kicks in order to qualify against ŁKS Łódź and OKS 1945 Olsztyn respectively.
ROMANIA: CFR Cluj-Napoca, winners of the Cupa Romaniei for the last three years, sealed their passage through to the Round of 16 with a 2-0 home win against Târgu Mureş to keep up their great recent record in this competition. Record title holders Steaua Bucharest are also through thanks to holding thier nerve in 3-1 a penalty shoot-out win over FC Sportul Studenţesc. Unirea Urziceni, however, went out as a Bruno Moraes goal was enough to seal Gloria Bistriţa’s place in the next round. FC Timişoara, Dinamo Bucharest and FC Brașov are amongst some of the other clubs that have made it through.
SCOTLAND: Same old story in Scotland’s CIS League Cup competition as Glasgow giants Celtic and Rangers kept up their dominance by progressing past this week’s quarter-final matches. Celtic, though, very nearly blew it after taking a three goal lead after 13 minutes allowing their hosts St. Johnstone to reduce the deficit to 3-2 but the Bhoys ultimately went through. Rangers, fresh from their Old Firm league victory three days earlier, were far from their best against Kilmarnock but still went through to the last four with a 2-0 win. Aberdeen FC and Motherwell FC make up the quartet of teams remaining as they knocked out Falkirk FC and Dundee United FC respectively.
SPAIN: Real Madrid CF are used to shocks in the Copa del Rey in recent years and they very nearly faultered again but their Round of 32, 1st leg match against Real Murcia ended goalless. Record Copa holders FC Barcelona made a good start defeating Ceuta 2-0 whilst current holders Sevilla FC easily disposed of Real Unión 4-0, a scoreline bettered by last season’s losing finalists Atlético de Madrid who put five past a hapless Las Palmas side. Athletic Bilbao hold a narrow 1-0 advantage over Alcorcon, the team who knocked Real Madrid out of last season’s Copa.
SWEDEN: The Svenska Cupen saw two eventful semi-finals this week. On Wednesday second division Hammerby IF blew a 2-0 lead in normal time but were able to go through after a pulsating 4-3 penalty shoot-out win over Allsvenskan side Kalmar. Thursday night saw Helsingborgs IF beat Mjällby AIF by two goals to nil and book their place alongside Hammerby in the final to be played on November 13th.
TURKEY: Türkiye Kupasi Play-Offs having taken place this week with the winners of each of the sixteen ties joining defending champions Trabzonspor and the top three teams in last season’s league championship, namely Bursaspor,Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray in the group phase. Beşiktaş sealed their place on Thursday with a 3-0 victory over Mersin İdmanyurdu with Guti and Bobô (2) grabbing the goals during the extra-time period. Sivasspor’s season went from bad to worse following their 2-1 home defeat by Manisaspor.
UKRAINE: Kubok Ukrainy Round of 16 saw the Big Two of Ukrainian football cement their places in the next round of the comeptition. Shakhtar Donetsk saw off the challenge of lower league FC Poltava with a 2-0 scoreline whilst Dynamo Kyiv also booked their spot with a 2-1 defeat of fellow Premier League club PFC Sevastopol. FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, who knocked out last season’s winners Tavriya Simferopol in the previous round, gave recently appointed coach Juande Ramos something to smile about with a 3-0 away win at Kremin Kremenchuk whilst Karpaty Lviv got the better of surprise 2008-09 cup winners Vorskla Poltava with a 3-0 win in front of their home fans.
WALES: The biggest score in Europe came in the Welsh Premier League Cup semi-final 1st legs with The New Saints, looking for a third consecutive title, thrashing Bangor City by a massive nine goals to nil. Bangor City, who have a perfect 100% record after eleven matches in the Welsh Premier League, fielded a weakened side and TNS made them pay with Jamie Wood scoring a hat-trick and two players, Scott Ruscoe and Alex Darlington bagging a brace each. The other semi-final, 1st leg tie was a much tighter affair with Llanelli AFC gaining a 1-0 win away at Aberystwyth with Stuart Jones getting on the score sheet.
Grenada and Guadeloupe have qualified for the 2010 Digicel Caribbean Cup proper having finished in the top two spots in qualifying Group E. All of the games in this group have been played out in Grenada over the last six days and the top two eventually proved too strong for Puerto Rico and St Kitts & Nevis who gave a good account of themselves.
The first round of games saw both Guadeloupe and Grenada make their mark although the former left it late to seal all three points in their opening game against St Kitts & Nevis. Having led for most of the match Guadeloupe conceded a penalty with seven minutes to go which Jevon Francis dispatched to equal the scores at 1-1. Guadeloupe regained the lead just four minutes later however after Jean-Luc Lambourde struck the crucial winning goal and allowed his team to pip the game by two goals to one. Following that dramatic finish came Grenada’s first match against Puerto Rico and the result was hardly ever in doubt once Grenada took the lead just before half-time through Kithson Bain. After the break Bain doubled the lead before Ricky Charles sealed the deal with ten minutes to play. Isaac Nieves did score a consolation goal for Puerto Rico but by then the damage had been done.
Puerto Rico’s chances of progression to the tournament proper were dashed in the second round of Group E matches. Colin Clarke’s men were 2-0 down against Guadeloupe after just ten minutes and the situation got worse in the second half when Guadeloupe made it 3-0 with an hour played. Chris Megaloudis and Petter Villegas did their bit to make a fight of it and reduced the deficit to 3-2 with ten minutes left to play but, try as they might, Puerto Rico were unable to break Guadeloupe resistance for a third time. Delroy Facey scored both goals in Grenada’s match-up with St Kitts & Nevis as the hosts took the initiative from the beginning, scoring both goals in the first half an hour.
Guadeloupe and Grenada had already secured their places in the tournament before they were due to meet in the final group match on Tuesday. This match, however, still had some significance as the final rankings would determine who played in which group when the main competition begins in November. Surprisingly home side Grenada struggled and allowed the visiting Guadeloupe team to find the back of the net on three occasions. Johnny Tacita bagged a brace with Gregory Gendrey completing the scoring in Guadeloupe’s fine 3-0 victory which took them to the top of the standings. In the other Matchday 3 game St Kitt’s & Nevis restored some pride with Jevon Francis’ stoppage time strike separating them from opponents Puerto Rico in a 1-0 victory.
Guadeloupe will now play in Group 1 involving defending champions Jamaica when the tournament proper gets under way in late November while Grenada will be placed in Group 2 with tournament hosts Martinique.
One of the most remarkable results in the histories of PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord Rotterdam occurred yesterday. For the former it was a majestic display of attacking football in which they put ten goals past their hapless opponents. For the latter it was a new low in the history of a great club who suffered their heaviest ever league defeat. What a performance!
WATCH PSV EINDHOVEN v FEYENOORD ROTTERDAM GOALS HERE:
Having lamented Liverpool’s woeful start to the 2010-11 Barclays Premier League season Stoppage Time – International Football Blog went back to Anfield yesterday for what proved to be a crucial three points won for the Reds.
I wrote a report for this section of the blog towards the end of last season regarding Liverpool’s UEFA Europa League quarter-final, 2nd leg against Lille OSC. The situation at that time seemed to most Liverpool fans like a desperate one: sixth in the league, fighting for a ‘mere’ UEFA Europa League place rather than the UEFA Champions League spot they’d grown accustomed to in recent years and out of both domestic cup competitions by January. With the ending of the Rafael Benítez era at the end of last season came the reality that the club were in transition and that the successes of previous years were becoming a distant memory after a fourth trophyless season. Roy Hodgson has since taken over the club and has hardly endeared himself to his new club’s supporters in recent weeks. After a start to the season which saw only one win (1-0 against West Bromwich Albion) in the first eight league games, the club lying in the bottom three and already knocked out of the League Cup against 4th tier side Northampton Town, the time had come for Liverpool to stand up and be counted.
Thankfully the recent ownership issue, in which Liverpool fans had set out to rid the club of their previous owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett, had finally passed and yesterday was the first home match under new owners. New England Sports Ventures had taken control prior to last weekend’s Merseyside derby defeat away to Everton and were hopeful that their first home game would bring about the win needed to start things afresh. Before the game there was a surprise live performance of the club’s anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by the one and only Gerry Marsden, the only sad thing for me personally was that the backing track over which Marsden sang sounded like a home karaoke system. Nonetheless the great man was still able to do the song justice and its conclusion signalled the beginning of the game.
The first half saw Liverpool create numerous chances but Blackburn’s goalkeeper Paul Robinson was showing some of the form which once made him England’s number one. Having gone in at half-time with the game goalless Rovers would’ve been satisfied that their game plan of trying to frustrate the home side seemed to be working. However it only took two minutes after the interval for the deadlock to be broken when Sotirios Kyrgiakos scored his second goal of the season getting on the end of a Steven Gerrard corner. The big Greek has started to chip in with the odd goal just like the club’s former centre-half Sami Hyypiä used to do and his personal performances have looked more consistent in recent weeks. Unfortunately for Liverpool they let the lead slip just a couple of minutes later when former player El-Hadji Diouf, not the most popular person at Anfield yesterday and constantly booed whenever he touched the ball, did his bit to silence the home fans after his shot was deflected in by Jamie Carragher. It seemed yet another ominous sign that Liverpool would prove to be their own worst enemies when faced with pressure but this time, rather than let their heads drop, they went up the other end and scored once more in the 53rd minute. Fernando Torres, whose only other league goal this season came in Liverpool’s previous win against West Brom, would score the winning goal against Blackburn and the relief in the crowd was huge, not only because Liverpool had re-taken the lead but because the popular Spanish striker was once again on the score sheet after a recent loss of form.
There were no further goals and it was surprising that Blackburn Rovers hadn’t taken the game more to their opponents especially as they had the comfort of knowing that a Liverpool victory still wouldn’t see the Reds climb above Rovers in the table just yet. Liverpool now have nine points after nine games, the same as Blackburn, but Rovers remain in 17th position (one above Liverpool) due to a better goal difference. Nonetheless for Liverpool yesterday it was about getting back on track and it seemed that Anfield was a happy place to be once more.
With all of the third round matches in the Copa Sudamericana completed Stoppage Time -International Football Blog looks back at the events in the last 16 and reveals the draw for the quarter-finals.
Defending champions LDU Quito were involved in a humdinger of a fixture against Chileans Unión San Felipe. There was a real danger that the Ecuadorians would be packing their bags following their 4-2 first leg defeat. All fears would be quashed in this week’s return fixture as LDU took the game to their visitors and came out on top in an amazing 6-1 victory. The goals were shared out amongst the LDU team with only Hernán Barcos scoring twice in the win. With an 8-5 aggregate win over Union the champions must face up to the challenge of Newell’s Old Boys in the next round. The Argentinians ran out easy winners against San José, clocking up a 6-0 rout of their hapless opponents in the first leg before the Bolivians restored some pride with a 2-0 home victory last night with goals from Luis Méndez and Aquilino Villalba.
WATCH LDU QUITO v UNION SAN FELIPE 2ND LEG HIGHLIGHTS HERE:
There will be plenty of Brazilian representation in the quarter-finals with four teams making their way through and, as luck will have it, they will all face each other in the next round. Palmeiras had the most convincing win in the Round of 16 tie sweeping Bolivians Club Universitario to one side with a 4-1 aggregate win. Marcos Assunção scored the only goal in the first leg away from home whilst Kléber, Luan and Danilo fired home the goals for Palmeiras in the home leg played this week. Their last eight opponents will be Atlético Mineiro who scraped past Colombians Santa Fe. Having won the first leg with a 2-0 scoreline thanks to a brace from Obina, Atlético lost out to a Félix Noguera strike in the return fixture on Wednesday but just had the better of the 2-1 aggregate score.
The other all-Brazilian affair will be fought out between Goiás EC and Avaí FC. Goiás EC won through their tie against Uruguayan giants Peñarol by virtue of the two away goals scored in Wednesday’s second leg tie. The first game was a narrow 1-0 win for Goiás EC thanks to Rafael Moura’s 23rd minute goal. On Wednesday it was the same striker who gave the visitors the lead to silence the thousands in the legendary Estadio Centenario but the home side would come back to level the aggragte scores at 2-2 with Matías Corujo and Marcelo Sosa hitting the back of the net before half-time. In the second half the vistitors went 3-2 up overall with Carlos Alberto scoring thirteen minutes before time. Peñarol hit back again through Alejandro Martinuccio with six minutes remaining but it ultimately proved fruitless for the hosts. Avaí FC, following their 2-1 first leg defeat away to Ecuadorians Emelec FC, went behind to a 2nd minute goal from Joao Rojas in the return fixture last night and all seemed lost for them. They turned it around in the second half with goals from Roberto, Eltinho and Emerson and remarkably progressed 4-3 on aggregate.
WATCH PENAROL v GOIAS EC GOALS HERE:
The sole Colombian team remaining in the tournament are Deportes Tolima following their tremendous come-from-behind victory over Banfield FC. The Argentinians won their first leg match 2-0 at home and seemed set to take the game to Tolima in the return fixture this week. However Tolima defied expectations and turned the game completely on its head with goals from Wilder Medina, Cristiano Marrugo and Rodrigo Marangoni settling the aggregate score at 3-2. Deportes Tolima have, thus, prevented the possibilty of an all-Argentinian encounter in the last eight as it is they who will meet Independiente in the next round. Los Diablos Rojos lost out in the first leg to Uruguay’s Defensor Sporting by a narrow 1-0 scoreline but won through with a 4-2 second leg win on Tuesday. Goals from Andrés Silvera, Hernán Fredes, Nicolás Alejandro Cabrera and Nicolás Martínez gave Independiente enough breathing space as Sporting proved to be tough opponents.
COPA SUDAMERICANA QUARTER-FINAL DRAW
Atlético Mineiro (Brazil) v Palmeiras (Brazil)
Avaí FC (Brazil) v Goiás EC (Brazil)
Deportes Tolima (Colombia) v Independiente (Argentina)
LDU Quito (Ecuador) v Newell’s Old Boys (Argentina)